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YOGA SUTRAS

The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali are 196 Indian sutras (aphorisms). The Yoga Sutras were compiled prior to 400 CE by Sage Patanjali, taking materials about yoga from older traditions. The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali was the most translated ancient Indian text in the medieval era, having been translated into about forty Indian languages and two non-Indian languages: Old Javanese and Arabic. Before the 20th century, history indicates the Indian yoga scene was dominated by the Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Vasistha, texts attributed to Yajnavalkya and Hiranyagarbha, as well as literature on hatha yoga, tantric yoga and pashupata yoga rather than the Yoga Sūtras of Patanjali. In the 20th century the western practitioners of yoga elevated the Yoga Sutras to a status it never knew previously. Hindu orthodox tradition holds the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali to be the foundational text of classical Yoga philosophy.

Patañjali divided his Yoga Sutras into four chapters or books (Sanskrit pada), containing in all 196 aphorisms, divided as follows

Samadhi Pada (51 sutras)

Samadhi refers to a blissful state where the yogi is absorbed into the One. Samadhi is the main technique the yogin learns by which to dive into the depths of the mind to achieve Kaivalya. The author describes yoga and then the nature and the means to attaining samādhi. This chapter contains the famous definitional verse: "Yogaś citta-vritti-nirodhaḥ" ("Yoga is the restraint of mental modifications").

Sadhana Pada (55 sutras)

Sadhana is the Sanskrit word for "practice" or "discipline". Here the author outlines two forms of Yoga: Kriya Yoga (Action Yoga) and Ashtanga Yoga (Eightfold or Eightlimbed Yoga).

Kriya Yoga is closely related to Karma Yoga, which is also expounded in Chapter 3 of the Bhagavad Gita, where Arjuna is encouraged by Krishna to act without attachment to the results or fruit of action and activity. It is the yoga of selfless action and service.

Aṣṭāṅga Yoga describes the eight limbs that together constitute Rāja Yoga.

Vibhuti Pada (56 sutras)

Vibhuti is the Sanskrit word for "power" or "manifestation". 'Supra-normal powers' (Sanskrit: siddhi) are acquired by the practice of yoga. Combined simultaneous practice of Dhāraṇā, Dhyana and Samādhi is referred to as Samyama, and is considered a tool of achieving various perfections, or Siddhis. The temptation of these powers should be avoided and the attention should be fixed only on liberation. The purpose of using samadhi is not to gain siddhis but to achieve Kaivalya. Siddhis are but distractions from Kaivalaya and are to be discouraged. Siddhis are but maya, or illusion.

Kaivalya Pada (34 sutras)

Kaivalya literally means "isolation", but as used in the Sutras stands for emancipation or liberation and is used interchangeably with moksha (liberation), which is the goal of yoga. The Kaivalya Pada describes the process of liberation and the reality of the transcendental ego.

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